Natural Person-Following Behavior for Social Robots

Rachel Kirby, Jodi Forlizzi and Reid Simmons
Conference Paper, Proceedings of Human-Robot Interaction, pp. 17-24, March, 2007

View Publication

Copyright notice: This material is presented to ensure timely dissemination of scholarly and technical work. Copyright and all rights therein are retained by authors or by other copyright holders. All persons copying this information are expected to adhere to the terms and constraints invoked by each author's copyright. These works may not be reposted without the explicit permission of the copyright holder.


We are developing robots with socially appropriate spatial skills not only to travel around or near people, but also to accompany people side-by-side. As a step toward this goal, we are investigating the social perceptions of a robot’s movement as it follows behind a person. This paper discusses our laser-based person-tracking method and two different approaches to person-following: direction-following and path-following. While both algorithms have similar characteristics in terms of tracking performance and following distances, participants in a pilot study rated the direction-following behavior as significantly more human-like and natural than the path-following behavior. We argue that the path-following method may still be more appropriate in some situations, and we propose that the ideal person-following behavior may be a hybrid approach, with the robot automatically selecting which method to use.

author = {Rachel Kirby and Jodi Forlizzi and Reid Simmons},
title = {Natural Person-Following Behavior for Social Robots},
booktitle = {Proceedings of Human-Robot Interaction},
year = {2007},
month = {March},
pages = {17-24},
keywords = {human-robot interaction, social robots, person tracking, person following},
} 2017-09-13T10:42:19-04:00